Funder: Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

Author: Caitlin Thomas-Henkel, Stefanie Turner, and Bianca Freda, Center for Health Care Strategies

June 2018 |


For many Americans, taking prescription medications is part of everyday life. Nearly 75 percent of the population takes at least one medication daily, and 29 percent take five or more. Despite these numbers, there is scant guidance available to help people navigate complicated drug regimens. The problem is exacerbated for individuals with multiple chronic conditions, who are often prescribed numerous drugs by various providers to be taken on different schedules — with no single entity that is coordinating all of their medications.

Tackling medication complexity through community-management medication programs can alleviate some of these errors, especially for low-income populations with complex health and social needs. Community management of medication complexity is a paradigm shift that moves from the traditional model of “dispensing” medication to a patient-centered approach that extends care beyond the walls of a clinical setting to help people safely and effectively use their medications.

CHCS’ report, Opportunities to Enhance Community-Based Medication Management Strategies for People with Complex Health and Social Needs, explores promising community-based medication management strategies that may be enhanced and expanded nationwide. Drawing from a literature review and interviews with experts across the country, the report outlines five key opportunities to support community management of medication complexity:

  1. Mastering the basics of medication management;
  2. Leveraging the workforce to maximize the scope of practice and capacity of pharmacists;
  3. Deploying innovative health technologies to optimize care and outcomes;
  4. Adopting appropriate quality measures; and
  5. Building advanced payment models.